If You’re Paleo, Must You Run Barefoot?

After a trail run recently, I had a chat with another trail runner about running shoes.  He was wearing Vibrams and I was wearing my Brooks Cascadia Trail Shoes.  

“If you’re Paleo, shouldn’t you be running barefoot?” is a question I have been asked before, several times.

My answer is no.  Not necessarily.  

Just the same as when I get an inquiry from a reader asking me what the ‘best racing flats are’, there are far too many variables that go into the equation that would prohibit me from dishing out a generic answer.

Yes, the concept of barefoot running is certainly more Paleo than the idea of running with shoes on, however, one would also need to consider:

  • the type of surface they’re going to be running on ( I never quite get it when I see barefoot runners, or people wearing Vibrams, training on concrete)
  • their foot structure
  • their gait
  • any and every tweak or twinge that they have not only in their feet, but also in the calves, knees, hips, low back; everything really is connected in this kinetic chain we have that we call a skeleton

If you’re thinking of going barefoot or transitioning to barefoot shoes, give it a try, but go slowly.  The same way you’d test out a different brand or style of traditional running shoes, you would definitely want to err on the side of caution here.  Your body will need time to adapt and risking an injury isn’t worth it.

Some try barefoot running and find all their woes evaporate; while others try it and cannot wait to get back into their Nikes.

Not dissimilar to running in Newtons, whose selling point is that their shoe “causes you to strike on the mid-foot,absorbing shock” or following the Pose Method, which teaches “a simple and comprehensive bio-mechanical model which eliminates injuries and enables every runner from novice to elite to fully utilize their physiological potential”, running barefoot is a concept that works for some and not for others.

If you’re curious, give it a try and decide for yourself if barefoot running and training is for you.  You have to be the judge, as no one but you knows how your feet, legs and body feel!